What I Read: November 2023

What I Read: November 2023

How are we already in the last few weeks of 2023? It’s like it was January, I blinked, and now, suddenly, I’m thinking about New Year’s resolutions again.

November wasn’t my biggest month of reading in terms of the number of books, but several of these books were thick! (I also put a big dent in another 800-page book that will probably be included in my December recap).

Here’s the list:

  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
  • Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll
  • Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros
  • Up To Speed by Christine Yu
  • What About the Baby?: Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction by Alice McDermott

Oddly enough, I am maintaining my near-even split between non-fiction and fiction even though I consider myself largely a fiction reader.

Let’s get into the reviews!

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

I really like Brené Brown- she’s funny and inspiring- but for whatever reason, I have a hard time connecting with her books.

This book didn’t really grab me for the first 50% or so, but the final half was good!

If you read a lot of self-help/self-improvement, it’s likely not anything you haven’t heard before: You need friends, you need to let go of perfectionism, you need to give yourself time to be creative, you need to play, etc. But she did bring in something new that I personally haven’t come across yet. She stressed the importance of music and dancing. Her family likes to crank up the music when cleaning up after dinner together and she recommends coming up with your own daily musical ritual.

Rating: 7/10

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Would I say that I liked this book? I’m not sure. But I keep thinking about it.

Sam and Sadie met as kids in a hospital, where they quickly bonded over their love of video games. But they lost touch after a fight and only reconnected many years later in college.

Both are awkward, have poor communication skills, and are haunted by differing life events, but they decide to give making their own video games a try. The book follows their (messy) journey together in the gaming industry.

I loved the whole atmosphere of this novel and all of the gaming references, but I hated that the main characters couldn’t just have an honest conversation with each other.

Rating: 8/10

Note: I want to give the heads-up, this is not a romance novel. If anything, it’s the story of a lifelong, complicated friendship.

Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll

Reading this was a strange experience. It was sad, you knew what was going to happen, and yet, I also couldn’t stop reading it. I also haven’t read many books like it, as the story toed the line between fiction and non-fiction.

This book was a look at the women impacted by the crimes of a well-known serial killer referred to in this book as “the defendant.” (The author never actually names the man, but there’s enough truth to know it’s Ted Bundy). The story primarily follows Pamela, the president of a sorority at Florida State University, as she deals with the aftermath of his crimes and tries to get the police to listen to her eyewitness account. Let’s just say, there’s a lot of sexism to deal with…

Rating: 8/10

Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros

This is the second book in the Empyrean series, so proceed with caution as there may be spoilers ahead.

I know the Internet has a lot of thoughts about this book and this series. This is mine. #nojudgement. So, after how much I enjoyed the first book (Fourth Wing- check out my review here), this one fell a bit flat in comparison.

For those of us of a certain age that obsessed over the Twilight series (remember the #nojudgement thing?), this book reminded me of how Edward Cullen was gone for most of New Moon and you found yourself waiting for him to come back.

In Iron Flame, I found myself waiting for Xaden to return- and so was Violet. This didn’t always make the most exciting reading, but the last several chapters of this book really ramped things up! I have so many questions about the ending and I can’t wait for the next book to come out. I need to know what it all means!

Rating: 7/10

Up To Speed by Christine Yu

This was the kind of book that left you feeling both mad and inspired.

Christine Yu dove into the issues surrounding women athletes and the lack of clear guidance for training, nutrition, recovery, and so on, due to a lack of research. (Most athletic research has been focused on men only.) She also spent time highlighting the unique challenges that women face due to fluctuating hormones, child birth, menopause, etc.

It was an interesting read on issues that people usually shy away from, but, unfortunately, (probably due to the lack of research), there wasn’t a lot of actionable information. That said, if you’re a woman and an athlete, this is worth the read.

Rating: 8/10

What About the Baby?: Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction by Alice McDermott

This was different than the usual writing book in the sense that it was a collection of essays about writing, rather than true writing advice/tips.

I’ll be honest, I tend to like more actionable stuff when it comes to my non-fiction reading, so this wasn’t my favorite. I also listened to this as an audiobook, but I think an actual book would have been easier to follow along. Alice McDermott included a lot of writing examples in the essays, so sometimes it was hard to tell what she was saying versus what she was quoting.

Even still, there were some good takeaways and things that I’ll be keeping in my mind in my own creative writing endeavors, including the story that gave the book its name. “What about the baby?”

Rating: 7/10

Want more book reviews? Check out what I read in October 2023!

As always, I want to hear what YOU are reading. Leave a comment below with some of your recent favorites.

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